Behind a hot night from beyond arc, Florida State rolled to a 116-68 win over Central Missouri in its first exhibition of the season.
“I like how we are aggressive, we want to get out and run like we did last year,” junior Terance Mann said after the game. “This year we’re going to make a lot more threes, spread the floor and open the lanes up.”
Mann scored 12 points and added six rebounds, but the story of the night was the Seminoles’ ability from deep, knocking down 13 shots from behind the 3-point line. Junior PJ Savoy, the team’s top marksman from a year ago made four on the night, on the way 19 points in the contest.
“He has supreme confidence when he’s open, whether he starts or comes off the bench, he’s the same,” FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said following the game. “He’s going to be a guy that’s instant offense for us, he’s one of the most productive offensive guys I’ve seen.”
Seven different Seminoles hit a three on the night, a stark contrast from a season ago when the team ranked near the bottom of the ACC in three-point shooting and percentage. The depth on the roster, especially of those with shooting capabilities provides FSU with more versatility on the offensive end than it had last year.
“It amps up our offense, Coach Ham has recruited a more versatile team this season, so it’s going to be fun,” said Savoy, who shot 40 percent from deep last season. “It takes the pressure off me as a shooter, especially when the other guys can shoot it.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic because we’ve shot the ball well this off-season,” Hamilton added. “One of our Achilles heels was that we didn’t shoot the ball well from three last season, I think we’ll correct that (this year).”
The game also provided a first glimpse of some new faces for the Seminoles, including the debut of highly recruited MJ Walker. The true freshman dropped 17 points in his first game dawning the Garnet and Gold. Flashes of the athleticism that made him a five-star recruit by some models appeared against the Mules, while the Jonesboro, GA-native also showed some ability from the 3-point line.
“He has tremendous quickness and speed, he has the complete package physically,” Hamilton said. “His effort was good and I think it’ll take time and experience for us to know what he’ll contribute.”
“That’s my guy, he played well,” Savoy said. “He’s a well-oiled machine, he knows how to score. He defends the ball well too, but it’s rare to see a guy come and just know how to score.”
Defensively, the Seminoles held the Mules to 30.8 percent from the floor, including just under 21 percent in the first half. Hamilton’s teams have traditionally been strong and it was a key reason why FSU returned to prominence in the ACC last season. It’s an area the team is taking seriously again this year.
“I think we’ve got the potential to be very good defensively, the effort is good and guys are trying,” Hamilton said. “I still think we need to learn how to defend without fouling and move our feet.”
Florida State shot 58 percent from the floor on the evening and out-rebounded Central Missouri 48-21, while also blocking six shots.
Up next for the Seminoles is one final exhibition game before the season begins as they host Thomas University on November 7 at 7 p.m.
“We’re going to have to win games by committee (this year), we’re going to need our young guys to come along and give us a boost,” Hamilton said.
“We’re young and the key for us will be how soon we can get those guys to come along.”